Social Question

tom_g's avatar

How do you define online privacy, and why is online privacy important to you?

Asked by tom_g (16635points) April 12th, 2012

Many conversations about Facebook or Google will inevitably elicit comments from people who are concerned about what Facebook/Google “knows about me”. It’s a slow day here on Fluther, and I have decided to ask yet another privacy question. But this time, I’m interested in the following:

1. What do you mean exactly by “privacy”? In other words, is there certain data that falls under the realm of “privacy”? We can all agree that typing on our computer is at least providing one piece of information: we are alive (or pretending to be). It seems that everyone draws the “beyond this line is what I consider my ‘private’ information.” Explain.

2. Are there services you will not use because of your privacy concerns (Facebook, Google, Apple, etc).

3. What types of tools/services do you use to protect your privacy? Do you use an anonymous proxy? Do you merely give a fake name to Facebook?

4. Are your concerns about privacy matters of principle, or do you have good reason to believe that your private information will be used to harm you?

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8 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I don’t use any Facebook apps.

nikipedia's avatar

I think when people are concerned about privacy, they are mainly concerned about things that could be used to hurt them in some way. There are clear, tangible concerns—e.g., if you get my credit card number, you can harm me financially—but I think as social networks have risen, intangible concerns that are harder to articulate have surfaced.

For a long time, social behavior was crucial to our survival, and it still is for many people. Short of that, though, it is still crucial to our happiness. Human societies have lots of complex rules for appropriate social behavior, and people get uncomfortable when those rules are violated, or even threaten to be violated.

Social networks online create an atmosphere where social rules are not yet clearly defined. The most obvious example is who we choose to share certain information with—when I arrive at work Monday morning, I can happily chat with coworkers and supervisors about going to the beach, or something nice I had for dinner. But information such as a fight with a lover, or any kind of risque, less socially acceptable behavior is reserved for close friends.

We haven’t figured out all the rules yet, so many people prefer to take a more conservative position until we do. Personally, I make it a point not to put anything out there that could be linked back to me that I would want hidden from even a single person.

Blackberry's avatar

I don’t care about people using my pictures in ads, for example, but I only care about stuff that could hurt my credit score lol.

ro_in_motion's avatar

No one has the right to read my email, get a listed of all my contacts in my mail program, or, for that matter, it doesn’t have the right to look at my browsing history. Likewise, no one has the right to mine my facebook acct.

tom_g's avatar

@ro_in_motion – Who is the “one” here? Is it a person or an entity/bot, such as your internet provider, facebook, etc?

ro_in_motion's avatar

@tom_g Anyone but me. Here’s an excellent example of what I support: http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-57412225-281/this-internet-provider-pledges-to-put-your-privacy-first-always/

I had great hopes for Diaspora to compete with Facebook, but it appears that’s impossible any more.

Keep_on_running's avatar

For me, the bottom line to online privacy is making sure personal information isn’t sold or used dishonestly (there’s a better word I’m looking for here).

I’ve had a particular email account for a couple of years and all of a sudden out of nowhere I started receiving about 3–4 spam messages per week. I hadn’t received a single one up until then because I was so careful about who I gave my address to. Gah, I wish I could find out which asshole site did this…

YARNLADY's avatar

I agree with @Keep_on_running . To me, privacy means I am in control of who knows my e-mail address other personal information, and such information is only used for personal business, and not shared without my permission.

There are programs now that go into other people’s contact list and steal all the information, then sell it. The Originator knows nothing about it, and cannot be held responsible for this gross misuse of personal information.

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